In a recent article published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, several authors looked at factors associated with an increase risk of infection after joint replacement. The national average for infection after joint replacement ranges from 0.8% to 1.5%, depending on the center, patient population, and surgical volume. Community hospitals with a high surgical volume tend to have lower rates of infection because of a more straight forward patient mix. Tertiary centers can experience a slightly higher infection rate, due to a more complicated nature of the patients and associated problems that require transfer to a referral center. The factors that were associated with an elevated risk included obesity, specifically patients who are morbidly obese with a BMI greater than 40. Other factors including diabetes and inflammatory-types of arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis), were also associated with a high rate of infection. Patients who have had previous surgical procedures on their hip or knee also noted a higher risk.
As patients, you can minimize the associated risks of infection by maintaining your body weight at a more ideal level, exercising to improve your fitness, and therefore ease your recovery, and make sure you maximize treatment of your various medical problems. Patients who are active participants in their care and recovery tend to appreciate greater rewards after their surgical procedure.